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A Working Mother’s Guilt

imageI had to return to work just 8 weeks after Mason was born. I had major anxiety, as I’m sure most mothers do, when having to return to work. For our family it was not a question whether I could or could not return to work. I have mountains of student loans to pay off and we are trying to save up to buy a house. Not going back to work was not a viable option for us.

Prior to going back to work I thought, “How in the world am I going to manage getting to work on time with a baby!”. I was already exhausted from multiple night feedings and I hadn’t even returned to work yet. Mason was still getting up at least twice a night at two months old, how was I going to breastfeed, get ready and be presentable, and be out the door in time?!

However, in between my pangs of guilt I also felt excitement to return to work. To return to adult conversation and having some freedom outside of our home by myself. To return to doing something that I loved and something that I felt was a part of me and defined me. I am a physical therapist. It took me 7 years to get my doctorate and I am not only proud of what I do but I love what I do. I have a powerful bond with my patients as I am there when they are at their lowest and I am part of their journey as they find their footing in the world again.

I also work because I feel that being a full time mom makes me a better mom. Every minute with Mason I cherish. I can not afford to take for granted a single minute that I have with my little one. He is only this little once. He will only want to be held and loved on for so long. From the minute he wakes up, to the time I put him down I have to soak up every laugh and every gummy smile.

Being at work for me is my “me time”. On the drive from one patient to the next, I find time to belt out to my favorite Britney song or call my best friend. Or just contemplate in perfect silence along the foothills of Kentucky on what activities our family will get into this weekend. At work, I get to have adult conversations and get a break from having one sided conversations with Dora, Peppa, and Mickey.

Being a working mom is a constant juggle. While I’m at work, I am constantly thinking of home and of Mason and if he took his nap today and how he is doing with teething today. But while I’m at home, I constantly wondering if my patients are okay, what doctors I need to call in the morning, and what paperwork I need to get done tonight. It’s a constant juggle between calling and taking care of patients with feeding Mason those peas he hates and entertaining my little monkey until bedtime. My life consists of not only having to juggle baby but juggle my married life. I am not only a mother but a wife as well. I never understood when people said there wasn’t enough time in the day until I was a working mother and wife. There will never be enough time in the day to get everything done but as long as my son and husband are happy and healthy, the rest will fall into place.

Do I still worry that Mason’s teachers or babysitter will know him better than I do? Yes I do, but even though my time with my sweet boy is limited I want it to be meaningful. I want to be an example for my son that hard work pays off. I want to show him that it can pay off if you are dedicated to your studies and education. That it is possible to find a career that will better your life and, if you’re lucky, impact someone else’s life.

Do I think that I would be happier if I didn’t work? No. Less hectic and crazy…yes. My patients and my career are a part of who I am as well as being a mother and wife. I hope that an older Mason will look back on the days when he was young and think back on his young(er) working mother who took care of the him and the household and think, “My mom really did it all and loved me all the same.” But until then I’ll continue to kiss and sing him goodnight and hug him every morning. I will thank God every day that I am a working mother who was blessed with a precious baby boy.

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Hidden Benefits of Being a Parent

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You’ll have those days when you are exhausted, disheveled, and covered in God knows what and you think, “Man, If I didn’t have kids I could just lay around, curse like a sailor and drink like one too” But there are some hidden perks of being a parent.

1) All ABOARD! Its summer time and it’s travel season. Flights are booked and every available seat on the plane is taken. Getting through security might have been a nightmare with your 10 bags, the removal of everyone’s shoes, and the dirty looks you got because your child is wailing and you are taking entirely too long to get through TSA. Don’t fret my dear. Some airlines are now letting families with small children to board first. Those that I know who allow this are Southwest, Delta, jetBLue, Alaska, and Virgin. And for you pond hoppers, some international airlines such as Emirates, British, Singapore, and Virgin Atlantic will provide child entertainment, meals, formula, and diapers! And to be honest, letting us families board first is a great idea because I know that my son would be trying to grab everyone’s hair all the way from the first class to coach.

2) Strollers have the right away
Shopping with a baby can be a challenge. You have to time everything just right with the last feeding, nap time, diaper change, etc. In those crowded malls it can be difficult to negotiate between all the kiosks, shoppers, and people trying to get you to buy some Dead Sea lotion and salt scrub for your hands. Thank god you have your giant stroller travel system with car seat carrier and under basket to lead the way. Can’t find a good route through the crowds? I say make your own…

3) I’m sorry to leave so early but the baby…..
Okay we have all been there. We are stuck talking to what’s her name at Kroger and can not find an appropriate escape route. Thank god for that darling baby that HAS to get home for a nap…or something….

4) Complete Strangers are genuinely nice to you
You’re struggling with that non-handicap door at the mall with your giant stroller, shopping bags, and all the while you’re juggling your iphone and venti latte. I want to say Thank you to all the complete strangers who stop and hold the doors open while my son is having an apocalyptic melt down because I can’t find Sophie the Giraffe in time.

5) Baby Weight
Okay, so I have been doing really good lately with the diet and working out thing….if you don’t count tonight’s bowl of butter pecan. But somehow with working full time, housework, and taking care of Mason (and blogging my Husband would like to add). I have been using my last reserve energy to drag my butt to the gym. I have lost most of my baby weight but there is still a few pounds to shed and you know what? Most everyone is really supportive and understanding of my post baby weight plight. I don’t know how long this will last but everyone seems super supportive and says things like “you just had a baby your body needs time to rest and recover!” I hate to tell them but Mason is 6 months old and that bowl of butter pecan wasn’t really necessary….or was it??…..

6) Time Management
Before my son was born I would seriously take almost all day to clean and do laundry. Not because I was slow or lazy but I just wasn’t in a hurry. Nowadays nap time is crucial. In a one hour nap time, I can shower, get ready, vacuum, do laundry, and tidy up all the baby toys that have been thrown around the house. After baby you learn to prioritize what has to be done right now and what can wait. There are a few things on the list that are always a priority….like showering…and having a cup of coffee…coffee is definitely on the priority list….

7) You’re a Hero without the cape
I have those days when I am completely and utterly worn out from work. I get home and there he is with his gummy smile and kicking his legs so feverishly because he is excited to see me. Right now I am his whole world and he is mine. There are days that I wonder what life would be like if we didn’t have our precious boy. You think about all the activities and events you are missing out on. But in reality, we would be missing out on so much more without him. I am blessed with giggles and smiles in the morning and hugs and snuggles at night. So the last not so hidden benefit of being a parent is that you are someone’s super hero. So soak up the crocodile tears and kiss the boo boos momma because you are super momma (or daddy!) to a very lucky little baby. You are able to juggle play dates, work full-time, keep the house up, make dinner, tell a bedtime story, and banish all the bed bugs and monsters before passing out and doing it again the next day. You go mom and dad…its all a bit exhausting but that gummy grin and sweet baby laugh makes it all worth it.